Pickle's Progress

I wasn't sure that I was going to post about the making of my pickles for the recent Park Slope Pork-Off. I got the recipe from David Lebovitz and he got it from the book Arthur Schwartz's Jewish Home Cooking. Now that I am blogging about it we will reach complete recipe redundancy. BUT! These were so easy and delicious that I can't resist sharing. SO! Here we go:

Arthur Schwartz's Homemade Kosher Pickles adapted by David Lebovitz and Melissa Sands:
The basic idea here is that you make a brine, pour it over little cucumber guys packed into glass jars with spices and then put them (without lids) into your cupboard. Magically, after 3-5 days, you suddenly have a butterfly instead of a caterpillar. Wow.

David made whole pickles and spears. Since these were specifically intended to go with my Spiked Pulled Pork Sliders at the Pork-Off, I wanted chips. I had picked up two different kinds of cucumbers - small, bright green babies at Trader Joe's and short but thick "regular" ones from a grocery store. I sliced the thicker ones on a mandolin and chopped the others by hand. It seemed safer for my fingertips. I used fresh bay leaves, coriander seeds, whole allspice and fennel seeds for my "pickling spice." I also filled the jars with sprigs of fresh dill and smashed garlic.

For funsies I also thinly sliced two tomatillos and one red onion to pickle together. I changed the recipe a bit for this mixture, adding dried Thai chilies for spice. Here are the beauties after 24 hours:

They definitely weren't done yet, so they went back into the cabinet. I tasted them each day until it had been 36 hours - at that point the thinner chips were definitely pickle flavored. The onions had mellowed and taken on some spice, so I put them in the fridge, too. The smaller, thicker chips tasted a little bitter and didn't seem to have picked up the flavors from the brine. I wasn't very hopeful for them because even at 24 hours the thin chips had a nice flavor. But an extra 24 hours did the trick - the next taste was all about salty, garlicky, dilly dills. The liquid had gotten cloudier and the chips themselves seemed saturated.

Pickled Cucumber Recipe:
2 quarts water
3 tablespoons kosher salt - do not substitute table salt or sea salt
12-15 Kirby or small cucumbers, cleaned & sliced as desired
1 bunch of fresh dill, washed
1 teaspoon each: coriander, allspice berries, fennel seeds
4 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

In a large pot, heat water with the salt until dissolved.

Sterilize two 1-quart jars by running them through the dishwasher or filling them with boiling water and dumping it out.

Put two or three bushy sprigs of dill into each jar. Pack in the pickles, layering in each jar: 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mix, 2 bay leaves and 2 smashed garlic cloves.

Carefully pour in the brine to cover the cucumbers completely. Cover each jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band or kitchen twine. Store in a cool, dark place for 3-6 days. When they have reached the desired sourness, put on a lid and refrigerate.

Pickled Red Onions and Tomatillos:
Follow the basic recipe above, but use 2 tomatillos and 1 red onion, thinly sliced and layered into a pint-sized mason jar. For my pickling spice, I did a mixture of coriander, allspice berries and mustard seeds - about 1 heaping teaspoon total. I also added 2 small, dried hot chile peppers to give these a little kick and left out the fresh dill. They were a perfect crunchy, tart topping for the pulled pork sandwiches I made with my Pork-Off leftovers.


mylastbite said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe. I've never made homemade pickles but will now.

GREAT photos too!

britoutofwater said...

I don't even LIKE pickles and I think I'm going to have to give this a go!

Marisa said...

Do you think you could do a hot water process on these after they've finished their curing, to make them shelf stable?

Melissa Sands said...

Marisa - I don't see why not. I'd like to do some canning this summer, so I'll do a little research. It's an area of cooking that I'm really interested in. My grandmother's farmhouse basement had rows and rows of dusty canning shelves - they obviously used to "put up" pickles, jams, jellies, tomatoes, etc., but it was before my time. I love the idea of saving your excess - of course, now it's from the market instead of the garden for me. (I do have some tomatoes on the patio this summer, we'll see what happens.)

Dawn said...

I am a huge lover of sweet pickles. I never made my own, but rather love the bread & butter ones at TJ's.
I must try this though.....

Eagranie said...

Yum, this looks delicious. I see that you left the skins on - did you notice any bitterness?

Hillary said...

Nice pickles! For a spicier version next time, try Spicy Dill Pickles

Charles G Thompson said...

I really want to try making homemade pickles so this is great. Thanks for posting. It was great meeting and chatting with you at the IFBC this past weekend!